A Maryland engineer, described by federal prosecutors as "one of the most significant illegal exporters of high technology to the Eastern Bloc" was sentenced yesterday in Alexandria to five years in prison for violating federal export laws.
D. Frank Bazzarre, 45, of Accokeek, pleaded guilty March 19 to illegally selling microcircuits used for cruise missiles, antisubmarine warfare equipment and other military technology to an Austrian firm. Canada is the only country to which that type of equipment can be legally sold without a special U.S. Department of Commerce license.
The Austrian firm, Xennon GmbH, then resold the equipment, valued at more than $6.5 million, to East Germany, Poland and the Soviet Union, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph J. Aronica said. The federal prosecutor said yesterday that Bazzarre knowingly "enhanced Soviet Union military capabilities and threatened our national security."
"What you have done to make money is despicable," U.S. District Judge Richard L. Williams told Bazzarre yesterday before fining the engineer $110,000 and sending him to prison. "You compromised national security to make money . . . without regard to the jeopardy that you may be putting your own country to."
Among the technologies that Bazzarre, chairman of the board of Technics Inc., a California-based firm with an Alexandria office, sold to the Austrian firm between 1979 and 1982 were the manufacturing and production capabilities of microelectronic equipment that could improve Soviet military systems, Aronica said.
Aronica said he was pleased with Bazzarre's five-year sentence -- almost all of which the prosecutor said probably will be served -- because "it is one of the heaviest sentences that a court ever ordered for the illegal export of high technology."
The sale of technical equipment, which is defined as information that is not classified but that could threaten national security, does not fall under the stiff espionage statute, a Justice Department spokesman said yesterday. Nationwide, fewer than 10 individuals have been convicted of illegally selling high technology to Soviet Bloc countries, in part because it is extemely difficult to prosecute those cases, the spokesman said.
Even though Aronica said Xennon is a "known diverter of high technology to the Eastern Bloc," the U.S. government has no authority to seize its financial records. Bazzarre had shredded his shipment orders, falsified financial documents and shipped equipment parts piecemeal, further complicating prosecution, the Justice spokesman said.
Bazzarre, who was also the director of Chapparal, a Marlow Heights computer firm, sat quietly during the court proceedings yesterday. When asked by Williams whether he had anything to say, the gray-haired engineer said only that he believed the technology was being used for "commercial electronics" and not for military purposes.
"I would first like to point out," Bazzarre's attorney, Plato Cacheris, told the court, "this conspiracy does not charge that Mr. Bazzarre sent anything behind the so-called Iron Curtain." Cacheris said that all that his client had pleaded guilty to was shipping equipment to West Germany.
Bazzarre was described in letters sent on his behalf to Williams as "extraordinarily intelligent" and a person who "contributed to the technical advancement in the electronic chip manufacturing industry."
When the defendant learned that federal authorities had begun investigating him, he fled to Austria in September 1983 with $35,000 in cash. Aronica estimated that Bazzarre made at least $2.5 million in profits during the three years he illegally exported equipment.
While in Vienna, Bazzarre entered a plea bargain with U.S. authorities, agreeing to return to this country and plead guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the Export Administration Act and two counts of illegally exporting equipment.
Aronica said Bazzarre's case is "especially important since the government's effort to stop the flow of critical technology to the Eastern Bloc is largely dependent upon voluntary compliance." He said he hoped this case would deter other "greedy and unscrupulous businessmen."